“I am being selfish? Or am I just being smart?”
This question came up a lot for me this week. Mostly in the relationship-department of my life.
Often I find myself quickly romanticizing a future with someone, even if they’re not right for me. It’s all too easy for me to dream of finally finding “my person” and living happily ever after.
When I was younger, when I first started dating (17 years old), I would often stay stuck in these toxic relationships simply because I didn’t want to be alone. Failing to recognize the difference between lonely vs. alone.
The dictionary defines the above terms as:
Alone: adjective & adverb
- Having no one else present, on one’s own.
- ex: “She was alone that evening.”
- Indicating that something is confined to the specified subject or recipient
- ex: “We agreed to set up such a test for him alone.”
- Sad because one has no friends or company
- ex: “Lonely old people whose families do not care for them.”
- Without companions; solitary.
- ex: “Passing long lonely hours looking onto the street.”
- (of a place) unfrequented and remote.
- ex: “A lonely stretch of country road.”
Not that the above terms needed explaining, since the majority of us who can read and comprehend understand them. But how do we FEEL about them and how often are the two connected?
For years I accepted the fact that if I was alone, then consequently, I was lonely.
Failing to recognize the difference between the two – I made sure I was constantly surrounded by people. Friends, Family, Significant Others.
I became so conditioned to being surrounded by others, that when I was alone – I was scared. I didn’t know what to do or how to spend my time.
I entered into toxic and abusive relationships with friends and boyfriends without recognizing the fact that I was better off being alone than I was being unhappy and with them.
Deciding to live on my own didn’t happen as I had expected.
In fact, right before it became a reality, my friend and I were looking at trying to find a place together.
Then the universe gave me a special nudge in the direction that said, “Go – figure out who YOU are when no one is watching. It’ll be okay.”
So I signed a year-long lease, at an excellent price, in my favorite city – West Seattle.
Admittedly, I was still scared. I ended up in another pseudo-relationship with an ex-boyfriend simply because I was scared to be in my home, alone. I was scared of the responsibilities that came with it as well. How am I actually going to afford to do this?
Oh – then I went and bought a car. (Which, I needed because there’s no way mine was going to keep running forever, especially since I’d already had to replace a few things with it…) Which further fueled my fear of financial burden.
My ex obviously sensed this and helped put my mind at ease for taking care of the majority of my bills for me while I worked to pay off my consumer debt. He’s a sweetheart and while I deeply appreciated his help, it also crippled me.
I reached a point where I knew I really did need to do this by myself and so I told him he had to go.
I was TERRIFIED – but believed that I was going to be okay.
Things have since gotten a little more stressful since losing my full-time job and having to rely more on my savings than I would like, but hey! At least I have savings to rely on!
It didn’t take much time before I ventured out into the dating world again. I seek this attention and validation from men in a way that I can only describe as almost masochistic. I NEEDED to feel valued by the other sex, I WANTED to cook/bake/take care of someone in a way that would distract me from my own goals and feelings about myself.
I met someone, quickly. He seemed like the total package. Smart, successful, owned a dog (who he actually took care of), well-dressed, and generally appeared to have his shit together.
Funny thing is, I always find a fault. ALWAYS. It drives me insane. I usually don’t communicate it well and end up just getting annoyed and irritated.
I tried to do things differently this time. I really did. I spoke up more and discussed what I wanted and needed out of a relationship — and time and time again, he apologized and told me he could fulfill my minor requests.
(Seriously minor. All I was asking was for someone who wanted to see me and make plans with me instead of blowing me off to take trips with friends.)
So — after spending a weekend without hearing from him, I finally got fed up and told him it wasn’t working.
I want to feel special in a relationship – not like a burden. I want to be someone you want to see, not an inconvenience.
I sat and stared at the text I sent him (yes, I did it through text message, no I’m not proud of that — but honestly, this guy was so hard to contact that I felt as though I had no other choice). I sat there pondering whether or not I had done the right thing.
Was I being selfish asking for more time and attention? Or was I being smart and valuing myself and my feelings?
I questioned this to the point where I ALMOST apologized.
Those feelings again of being alone/lonely creeping into my head. How much time do you have to put into something before you decide to move on and find something else that is easier? Will anything be easier? Will I always find fault and nit-pick and pout when I don’t get my way?
The answer is, “NO.”
I have spent YEARS trying to figure out why I have such a desire to be loved in a relationship and what that ACTUALLY means and looks like. Discovering how I give and accept love. How to be with someone else and communicate with them what my needs are and how i can show them I care.
It’s not about just BEING with someone. Being with someone is selfish. Especially if you’re unhappy.
It’s about loving yourself and who you are. It’s about being smart and remembering it’s NOT selfish to put yourself first when searching for a companion (whether through friendship or romantically).
If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would tell her:
“You are smart, you are beautiful, you are loved. You will feel heartache and pain in ways that I cannot explain to you yet, but you will heal and get over it. You will build walls to try to protect yourself. You will try to showcase things about you to attract someone you THINK you want. Value yourself more than that. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished in your life and do not for ONE MINUTE degrade or think less of yourself because you’re so busy comparing your life to others. Believe in yourself. Love yourself.”
Until next time,